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Trio of South Carolinians to Represent U.S.

By Carolyn Nichols

Three longtime South Carolina tennis players will represent the U.S. next month in the 34th International Tennis Federation Senior World Team Championships.

Woorons-Johnston,_SophieSophie Woorons-Johnston, of Anderson, Jolene Watanabe, Hilton Head Island, and Diane Barker, Daniel Island, will play in the championships at Boca Raton, Fla., and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The prestigious international team event is scheduled for April 21-26 and will be played on green clay. The event is the senior equivalent of Davis Cup and Fed Cup for players age 35, 40, 45, 50, and 55 and over.

Woorons-Johnston has been selected to the Young Cup team for women 40 and over and has been selected as the playing captain for this team. This is the first time she will be participating on the Young Cup team. In 2013, she led the USA Lenglen Cup team to its bronze medal finish. She had a stellar year in 2013, winning the 40 National Hard and Clay singles titles and the 40 Clay doubles. She played No. 1 singles and doubles on the Southern Women’s 35 Intersectional team that won the gold medal in Boca Raton. Joining her on the team are Patricia Zerdan, of Dallas, Texas; Julie Cass, Austin, Texas; and Vesna McKenna, Hollywood, Fla. It will be a diverse team, with players from all over the world; Zerdan and McKenna are natives of Argentina, and Woorons-Johnston is from France. The Young Cup team will be playing at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens.

Watanabe,_Jolene,_ActionWatanabe will be playing on the Margaret Court Cup team. This is Watanabe's second time playing for the U.S. on a Senior Cup team, having last played on the Lenglen Cup team in 2006. This year she will be the No. 1 player on the Margaret Court team for women 45 and over. In the intervening years she’s had two hip replacements and has battled breast cancer but is back playing better than ever. In 2013 she won the 45 Clay and Indoor titles and placed third in doubles at the 45 Indoors. She was the No. 1 player on the Southern Women’s Intersectional team that won the silver medal in 2013 in Florida. Watanabe is a former touring pro, once ranked in the top 70 in the world in singles. Tennis runs in her family: Her mother Janet is an accomplished super senior player, and her aunt Tina Karwasky is also a superstar in the women’s 55 and 60s division. Karwasky has won five world titles and 10 gold balls. Joining Watanabe on the team will be Jenny Klitch, Palm Beach Gardens.; captain Shelly Works, San Antonio, Texas; and Alissa Finerman, Santa Monica, Calif. The Margaret Court Cup team will be playing at the Polo Club in Boca Raton.



Barker,_DianeBarker has been named to the Connolly Cup team for the third straight year. She is the current and three-time world champion in the 55 age division. She won the 55 Clay singles in 2012 and 2013. She also enjoys playing mother/son competitions with Matthew Hane. They won the Mother/Son Hard in 2013. Joining her on the team will be Susan Wright, of Grand Junction, Colo.; Karwasky, Glendale, Calif.; and captain Carolyn Nichols, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Each Cup team consists of four players selected from the entire country, based on their USTA senior tournament results in 2013. There will be teams from all over the globe, representing six continents. In 2013 the USA won the Maureen Connolly Cup (women 55 ) and Maria Bueno Cup (women 50 ). The USA finished second in the Austria Cup (men 55 ), and Dubler Cup (men 45 ) and third in the Suzanne Lenglen Cup (women 35 ). The USA finished sixth in the Margaret Court Cup (women 45 ), eighth in the Young Cup (40 ), 12th in the Italia Cup (men 35 ), 13th in the Tony Trabert Cup (men 40 ) and seventh in the Fred Perry Cup (men 50 ). This event was held on red clay in Turkey in 2013.

Click here for more information on the championships.




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